2015 NECDO Annual Report

2015 NECDO Annual Report

Acknowledgement:

NECDO completed the 2015 its fifteenth year of work for empowerment of Afghan women, youth and children, It was really challenging working year in NECDO’s history, we had vast range of networking and communication with national, international NGOs as well as with Afghan government, especially MOWA, MoRA and MoE, MoJ, MoLSAMD as we cordially thank them for support and cooperation. Working in partnership with different women NGOs was extremely learning experience where we found that still Afghan women are lacking the real understanding of sisterhood, Afghan women organizations are still immature and mostly their criteria depends on the nature of funding they do not consider importance of needs of Afghan women. It was also shocking to see how educated & employed women can be obstacle for development and improvement of other women who may be taking a step farther. The women movements in Afghanistan are depending on the ethnicity, language, family relationships and personal benefits, I am really concerned that Afghan women who are not united with all the challenges & opportunities we had in the past 15 years. The upcoming Election, re-emergence of Taliban, increase of domestic violence, corruption and degraded security situation would push Afghan women at least one decade back. NECDO with all that does not lose hope and struggle with all the challenges and had the following major achievements:

I would like to thank those friends who have supported us to bring the program to its current stage by their moral, technical, financial supports and active participation to improve the quality of work. Therefore we were able to undertake the initiatives to help needy women & children to improve their living condition and build upon a peaceful environment within their families, society, and at a large scale to take part in building up a peaceful Afghanistan.

We do appreciate the support of Nahdhatul Ulama Indonesia (PBNU) and the respective Embassy of Indonesia in Kabul for their support of the Ulama Annual conference in Kabul and their efforts for role of Ulama in peace and Reconciliation and countering radicalism in Afghanistan.

I would also thank ACEP/CPI for their support of Safe Educational Environment for All (Mohit-e-Salim) Project and the survey conducted in 4 provinces of Kabul, Ningarhar, Herat and Balkh on the sexual harassment in educational sector which helped us to draft a code of conduct on sexual harassment and shared with MoJ and MoHE and other CSOs.

Also, I would like to mention from Ms. Daisy Khan (WISE Women Shura), Imam Feisal Cordoba initiative, sally kitch and Joyce Dubensky (Tanenbaum) for their moral support during the 2015

We want to mention the contribution of our community; our Afghan sisters and brothers who have given their time and energy voluntarily to support NECDO in carrying the activities successfully. I would like to thank the NECDO Board of Directors despite all engagements have directed NECDO accordingly.

I would like to thank Mr. Fazal Ghani Kakar as Managing Director and all NECDO program staff who struggled for NECDO internal management and staff Capacity building and all NECDO working staff in different projects.

We also cordially thank the other organizations and individuals who have supported NECDO financially and technically to undertake the activities planned for the year 2015. We appreciate their assistance provided to NECDO in order to play its role for a step towards prosperous Afghanistan. We through their support could move further to reach our aims of serving humanity and help the needy Afghan women in the best possible way. May Allah bless and help all. I wish you all success and prosperity.

Regards

Jamila Afghani

31st Dec 2015

Project#: 1

Mohit-e-Salim Project

“Enhancement for a Safe Educational Environment (free from Sexual Harassment) for all”

2014 – 2015

Muhit-e-Salim Project: is a joint venture of women activists representing different national

NGOs, networks, and individual scholars, teachers, professors, parents and students that aims to work for an educational environment free of sexual harassment in Afghanistan. NECDO as women and local organization working for empowerment of women through multi-dimensional and innovative projects faced a major challenge of Sexual Harassment on the way to carry out its work. In 2004 where we established Youth Committees in Ghazni Province to mobilize youths to play their role for decrease of sexual Harassment in schools and public spaces. Officially, the group (MSP) started its work under leadership of NECDO in 2007 with a research on the issue from one of the Kabul University. The core group of MSP is a dedicated activist who believe that Afghan society as an Islamic and democratic country, where work on prevention of sexual harassment from educational institutions especially higher education is our moral and social obligation

According to the research reports in 2007 & 2014 shows that Sexual Harassment is a major challenge for women empowerment and getting higher Education and become a professional leaders for future of Afghanistan, SH do exist on streets, in public transport, in the markets, in educational institutions and at workplaces, however we have decided to begin our efforts to curb sexual harassment first in the educational institutions. We believe that education is a path to development of Afghanistan and to produce Human Resource and ensure Gender Equality

Strategic Direction of Muhit-e-Salim Project 2015-2018:

The goals for the next 4 years working through MSP should achieve the following three main Goals:

Goal # 1: 1. Law on sexual harassment with legal status and implemented by all educational institutions of Afghanistan & work place Anti sexual harassment policies will be finalized For MOE, MoHE MOLSA, Ministry of Women Affairs, 3. 4. Establishment of complain committees in every educational institutions and establishment of Complain Center at least in 8 zone of Afghanistan

Goal # 2: Conducting a nationwide research on sexual harassment from higher educational institutions and work place, Writing articles and reports and other relevancies.

Goal # 3: 1.Conducting Awareness raising workshops on sexual harassment and protection of victims for female, male university students, government employee, civil society members, teachers, community influential members, Imams. 2. Capacity building of core group on Advocacy & networking. 3. Development of training martial, audio & video for workshops. 4. Media awareness raising program by local Radio & TVs.

Activities have been done so far:

A research report from the Kabul University in 2007 conducted in which the main findings of the research report on sexual harassment in higher educational institutions are mentioned as two major findings

  1. All kinds of harassment do exist in educational institutions.
  2. Women safety and security is at risk inside and outside of educational institutions

10,000 Posters, pamphlets, was developed for more public awareness in Universities, public spaces

Big posters for local bus transports with massages from Islamic perspective

Development of training material in Dari & Pashto

Audio and video and training manual was developed and around 1000 youths (700 female & 300 male) in Kabul were trained.

Building Capacity of Core member on the issue for future advocacy

Establishment of Youth Committees with Kabul Universities for provide awareness for other youths on the issue

A code of Conducted as Ethical Policy for Educational institutions has developed (please refer to annex # 1)

Conducting awareness workshops for 1500 Ghazni, Badakhshan and Ningrhar youths and establishment of youth Committees

Conducting Provincial Campaign against sexual harassment by football match in Ghazni province, Mosque campaign in Ghazni, Kabul, Ningarhar and Badakhshan provinces

Conducting a comprehensive research report from 20 Universities in Kabul, Ningarhar, Harat and Mazar universities

Establishment of four Working Committees:

Media and awareness committee

Advocacy and lobbying Committee

Research and analysis committee

Monitoring and evaluation committee

A Strategic Plan for 2015-2018

Summary:

Sexual Harassment is one of the major challenges that women in Afghanistan constantly face, which affects their progress in the society. According to this report “Muhit-e-Salim Research Report 2015”, one of the major challenges in the way of women empowerment and leadership in the tribal, male dominated and religious society. Family dignity is the top priority and women as representative of family’s dignity are the very first to be victimized. In order to keep family’s honor and dignity, women sacrifices their basic rights such as education, right of social mobility, and the right of employment. The issue of sexual harassment in higher educational institutions not only affects women as individual but it also the whole society. The need of the time is to scientifically find out the magnitude, dynamics, and the context of these social problems and weed them out. This struggle of cleaning our environment is the responsibility of both men and women at all levels. We need to return to our high standards of ethics and make the environment at home, in public, in educational institutions, and at workplace safer for all women and men.

The research report shows the following main points which need immediate attention:

The research report is indicating that 99.9% of the respondents say that many kinds of Sexual harassment do exist within educational environment.

There is a greater need for a proper and official complain mechanism that harasser can be careful of his/her attitude and also the victim can seek justice by legal mechanism.

87% of the respondents say that any women faced with continuous sexual harassment leave their higher education and accept forced marriages and domestic violence silently.

The figures are very high and shocking compared to the research report in 2007, policy makers have to take this issue very seriously and any investment in education and empowerment without addressing the issue of sexual Harassment will go in vain.

There is need of breaking the chains of silence and Public awareness and raising attention among the population are very important. The problem is increasing due to silence of the victims, policy makers and civil society.

The Research report is a situation analysis to see the magnitude, dynamics, and the context of Sexual Harassment found particularly in twenty higher educational institutions (government & private. The research study was designed and conducted during Oct – Nov 2014 addressing the concern about increased level of sexual harassment within educational environment, which has become a hug hurdle abstaining women from continuation of higher education. The main Goal & objectives were as follows:

Goal of The Research Report: Understanding the forms of sexual harassment are prevalent in the educational institutions.

Objectives:

To find out the frequency at which sexual harassment is committed in educational institutions.

To recognize who the harassers are and the power dynamics associated with them, to gather information about the social, psychological and physical effects of sexual harassment.

The research report in hand is a qualitative and quantitative research as a base for advocacy issues as well as a comparative study of sexual harassment in educational environment since 2007. In this report we have targeted four major cities (Kabul, Balkh, Ningarhar & Herat), 20 Universities (private and government) and 1458 male & female. Initially NECDO key managers and survey officer developed a questionnaire, and after approval by the core group of MSP it was shared with surveyors. The questionnaire focusing on the three above mentioned objectives within 4 chapters, with total of 10 questions.

10 surveyors were appointed based on HR Policy of NECDO on transparent and fair selection process. Seven surveyors were from Kabul (5 female & 2 male), one Male from Balkh, and one female from Herat also a female from Ningarhar. The surveyors were given five full days of ToT, which were three days of theory and two days of practical. The field interviews started from 11th Oct to 11th Nov Prior to conducting field interviews, we got support letter from Ministry of Education, Ministry of Women Affairs. In total 1458 interviews were conducted. According to the Morgan theory basically, the data was cleaned up and a percentage of 5% was considered as error and finally the report was developed out of 1385 interview forms.

This research report has a comparative study between Research report in 2007 and the one in 2014 which show gravity of the situation. It also contains a number of real & true Case studies that give a better impression of the situation. The recommendations given are based on nine years of work experience by NECDO and member teams. 20% of the respondents said at least two times in a day they had the experience of harassment. The research report annex also contains a future plan for MSP by NECDO and members and strategy to address the issue from bottom to top and from top to bottom. The repeated acts of sexual harassment many times bring socially bad name to the victims who lose confidence and courage and let themselves be victimized. Fear of disgrace at the highest level of 64.8% and the lowest level of 7.3% were recorded in the victims. This fear of disgrace is the highest element of psychosocial illness.

NECDO cordially thanks Counter Part International/USAID and working Core Group (KANRAH members) to make this research report possible.

2.0 Muhit-e-Salim Project Background:

Muhit-e-Salim is a joint venture of women activists representing different national NGOs that aims to work for “an educational environment free of sexual harassment” in Afghanistan.   The group is led by a core team of dedicated activists who believe that Afghan society should and will take care of this problem. Though they acknowledge the problem at every level within homes, on streets, in public transport, in the markets, in educational institutions and at workplaces, however they have decided to begin their efforts to curb sexual harassment first in the educational institutions. They believe that education is a path to development of Afghanistan and they need to begin with removing the big hurdles that women face on this journey.

Through the leadership of NECDO, a group of women activists came together in 2007 to start working on a joint venture under title of “ Muhit-e-Salim Project” where posters, pamphlets, audio and video and training manual was developed and around 1000 youths (700 female & 300 male) in Kabul were trained. In order to find the gravity of the problem a research was conducted from 1150 individuals (800 female students, 200 male students, 150 professors and support workers). The main findings of the research report on sexual harassment in higher educational institutions are mentioned as under:

All kinds of harassment do exist in educational institutions.

Women safety and security is at risk inside and outside of educational institutions.

The threats are not only from the class fellows, but also major threats from the teachers & professors.

Street harassment is an act of violence and discrimination. In addition to making women feel endangered and vulnerable in public, harassment also discourages them from leaving their houses, and feeds the sadistic and discriminatory motivations of the assaulter by objectifying women, which leads to rape and sexual assault.

The group of Muhit-e-Salim was pressurized by concerned government departments, Kabul University Professors, and some of the civil society members who believed that silence is better than to address the problem. Since 2009 to 2014 NECDO with the help of a group of committed members continued the work with notion of “Think Globally and Act locally” to address the issue. Therefore, awareness among youths within different Universities in Kabul, Ningarhar and Balkh was addressed by provision of series of workshop to mobilize youths. The workshops had the standard training manual including audio and video Materials. NECDO worked for establishment of youth Committees in Ghazni province and Kabul provinces which latter on got more structured by the name of “Committee Inzbat and Insijam”[1] under university structure. We also paved the way for having a simple code of conduct by Kabul University through the pressure of youth committees. We also organized social campaigns for youth moral mobilization in Ghazni province and also convinced the NECDO’s Imams Network to condemn act of sexual harassment from Islamic perspective. The youth committees in Ghazni Province established a local Radio station, which on daily basis addresses the issue. The whole Ghazni city Friday Campaign through mosques was another successful movement of youth committees to address the issue of sexual harassment in public and schools. During 2014 the complains by youth committees in Kabul and Balkh convinced us to conduct another research report and address this issue with the new government and policy makers in order to have a systematic and legal complain mechanism within Government and Public Universities.

The Main Findings of the Research in 2014:

Women and girls are subduing their suffering from sexual harassment in educational environment to safeguard their family dignity and honor. The research report shows that the victims of sexual harassment suffer from different kinds of psychosocial illnesses. Beside that they silently accept forced marriages and stop continuation of their higher education. Any investment in the field of higher education for women without advocacy or addressing the issue of sexual harassment will not produce the desired results. One of the most significant and shocking fact is that 99.9% of the respondents said they had heard many cases of SH within their educational environment. 87.1% of the respondents mentioned that victims of SH stop continuation of higher education to save their family honor. The victims of SH suffer from the fear of disagreement up to 64.8%. The domestic violence is increased against the victims within families up to 56.2%. The percentage of victims who were compelled to enter into forced marriages in order to save their families honor was up to 47.6%. The increased limitation on mobility of the victims was up to 41.5%. The victims who lost their trust on surroundings, their percentage was up to 41.1%.

To the dismay, the above mentioned figures and percentages were taken out of the research report conducted from 20 Universities from Kabul, Herat, Ningarhar and Balkh from 1385 including students (female, male) teacher, administrative staff. The gravity of the problem was very deep which need very urgent and abrupt attention by policy makers, civil society activists and parents and students for having a safe educational environment for all especially for women.

Comparing the current report with the report of 2007 another type of Sexual harassment is highly indicated. The 25% of the total of respondents mentioned about kidnapping of the victims and raping them. This was the way to compel families to marry their daughters to the harasser, and such a harassment type was not indicated in 2007 research report. 50% of the women that were surveyed mentioned about another type of harassment that was being followed by a car or motorbike by the perpetuator.

In response to the question, if there was any reaction by victims towards the perpetuator, out of 1385 respondents, 66% said mostly victims and their families subdue their feelings and keep silence fearing consequences of disgrace within the society. 87.1% of the respondents mentioned that families compel their daughter to enter into forced marriages in order to escape from societal disgrace. The last destination for Afghan women is marriage, as women are not considered breadwinners of the families and they are depending on the male family members and this condition makes them vulnerable to compromise on their education and public participation. In response to the question that there was any complain mechanism system within your university to deal with such issues, 98% of the respondents had no idea if there was any such department or unit within Universities to deal with such issues. Only 2% of the respondents said there was complain to administrations of the Universities, but there was no follow up on the cases. When the same questions were asked from the teachers and administration of the universities 65% of the respondents said there was no need of such a department as no women would be ready to share the cases of disgrace in front of others. Usually, women were keeping silent in such circumstances. 35% were in favor of a special department with a specific policy to deal with the SH issues. In response to the question why there was no way to stop all this, 99% of the respondents said, corrupt educational system and involvement of lecturers and professors in the harassment were huge hurdles which did not allow them to get a solution. The third chapter of the questionnaire was about the psychosocial impact of the harassment on the victims, which had the following amazing figures that 64.1% of the victims got psychosocial illnesses without a proper treatment of resiliency. Around 32% of women victims lost a normal daily life.

Comparative Studies between 2007 & 2014 Research Report:

Women and girls are subduing their suffering from sexual harassment in educational environment to safeguard their families’ dignity and honor. The research data shows that the victims of sexual harassment suffering from different kinds of Psychosocial illnesses. Beside that they silently accept forced marriages or stop continuation of their higher education. Any investment in higher education for women without advocacy or addressing the issue of sexual harassment in the higher education will be not fruitful. One of the most significant and shocking fact was that 99.9% of the respondents said they had heard and witnessed many cases of SH within their educational environment. 87.1% of the respondents mentioned that victims of SH stop continuation of higher education to save their family honor. The percentage of victims of SH who suffer from the fear of disgrace was up to 64.8%. The percentage of victims suffering from increased level of domestic violence within the families was up to 56.2%. The 47.6% of the victims were compelled to enter into forced marriages in order to save their families honor. The increased limitation on mobility of the victims was up to 41.5%. 41.1% of the victims lost trust on the surroundings.

To dismay of the above mentioned figures and percentage out of the research report conducted from 20 Universities from Kabul, Herat, Ningrahar and Balkh from 1385 students (female, male) teachers, administrative staff. The gravity of the problem was very deep which needs urgent and prompt attention by policy makers, civil society activists and parents and students for having a safe educational environment for all especially for women.

Comparing the current report with the report of 2007 another type of Sexual Harassment is highly indicated. 25% of the total of respondents mentioned about kidnapping of the victims and raping them. This was the way to compel their families to marry their daughters to the harasser, and such a kind of phenomena was not indicated in 2007 research report. 50% of the women who were surveyed mentioned about another type of harassment that was being followed by a car or motorbike by the perpetuator. In response to the question if there was any reaction by victims towards the perpetuator, Out of 1385 respondents, 66% said mostly victims and their families subdue their feelings and keep silence fearing consequences of disgrace within society. 87.1% of the respondents mentioned that families compel their daughter into forced marriages with the harasser in order to escape from societal disgrace. The last destination for Afghan women is marriage, as women are not considered breadwinners of the families and they are depending on the male family members and this condition makes them vulnerable to compromise their education and public participation. In response to the question that there was any complain mechanism system within your university to deal with such issues the 98% of the respondents had no idea if there was any such a department or unit within Universities to deal with such issues. Only 2% of the respondents said that a complaint was made to administration of the Universities, but no follow up was done on the cases. When the same question was asked from the teachers and administration of the universities 65% of the respondents said there was no need of such a department as no women will be ready to share the cases of disgrace in front of others. Usually, women were keeping silent in these circumstances. 35% were in favor of a special department with a specific policy to deal with the SH issues.

In response to the question why there was no way to stop all this, 99% of the respondents said, corrupt educational system and involvement of lecturers and professors in the harassment were huge hurdles which did not allow them to get a solution. The third chapter of the questionnaire was about the psychosocial impact of the harassment on the victims, which had the following amazing figures that 64.1% of the victims got psychosocial illnesses without a proper treatment of resiliency. Around 32% of women victims lost a normal daily life.

Historical background:

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

Education is both a cornerstone for building Afghan women human capital and a sine qua non for their equal enjoyment of rights and participation in national development. However, their access to a safer academic environment that can guarantee this is often infested with numerous constraints. Sexual harassment and violence in educational institutions is an abuse of power by teachers and lecturers and the corrupt education system. It has other severe consequences such as leading to girls and women dropping out of educational institutions, according to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report, which was published in October 2013.

Sexual violence in education has been largely ignored by policy-makers, education leaders and law enforcement agencies around the world. It is likely to be greatest in countries with poorly resourced education systems, low levels of accountability and high levels of poverty and gender inequality. It is also high in regions experiencing conflict, with young people in refugee camps particularly vulnerable. We don’t have very many accurate data because this is a sensitive topic especially for the women and girls that have been harassed, and a culture of denial among many of those in positions of authority. There is also considerable under-reporting by students who fear victimization, including being failed in tests and exams, stigmatization or ridicule; or because they believe that no action will be taken against the perpetrator if they report the incidents.

Families have often restrained their daughters from going to schools and universities when they learnt that their daughters’ safety, dignity and integrity were in question at these institutions. This kind of family attitude has left less communication space for younger women to negotiate support from their families in dealing with the challenges they face in public. In public life women often deal with sexual harassment by suppressing her feelings and being silent about it. They also at times quit their jobs to escape the situation. There are hardly any professional ways to acknowledge or deal with this issue. Street mugging, touching and teasing of women, especially verbally, are generally exercised as right of men by birth. They use this attitude to suppress the women and keep their position of authority in the society. This leaves the women afraid, dependent, fatigued, uncomfortable, frustrated, hurt and sucks away her self-confidence throughout her life.

The magnitude of the issue has unfortunately been worsened in the years of war. Although harassment, especially sexual harassment, had never been clearly defined in the law before, the prevalence of impunity and absence of rule of law for years has made it to flourish more widely.   Even larger universities in Kabul and other provinces have reputation of sexual harassment by the university professors[2] and teachers, in addition to harassment experienced by women from their fellow male students.

After the fall of Taliban, impressive progress has been made since 2001 with 6.2 million students enrolled in general education in 2008 in comparison with 2.3 million enrolled in 2002 much still needs to be done to increase the enrolment rate of female students. Of the 6.2 million children enrolled in general education, 36 percent were female. A major obstacle to the increased enrolment rate of girls, however, is the shortage of female teachers. In 2008, only 29 percent of all teachers were female. Similarly, the higher education system also faces disparities between male and female student enrolment rates. In 2009, for instance, 62,000 students were enrolled in higher education institutes in Afghanistan, 21 percent of which were women. While this percentage has risen considerably in comparison to the end of the Taliban period when no women were enrolled in higher educational institutes in Afghanistan, enrolment rates of male and female students are still far from equal. In technical and vocational education, only 16 percent of all students were female in 2008. The Ministry of Higher Education, however, aims to address this disparity by setting a goal of having at least 30 percent female students in higher education by the end of 2014. The report gave a succinct overview of the prevalence of GBV as well as recommendations that their purpose was to reduce its occurrence. Gender based violence, and in particular sexual violence, is a serious, life-threatening protection issue, primarily affecting women and children.

UNESCO guided by the three fundamental principles of Universality, Diversity and Dignity is working to promote gender equality in Afghanistan. In order to pave the way toward sustainable development, the broader goal of gender equality is a societal one in which education and all other social institutions, must contribute. In the framework of the ANDS, the NAPWA, the Constitutional guarantee to equality, the MDGs, the EFA goals as well as the CEDAW, UNESCO[3] is supporting the Government of Afghanistan to mainstream gender issues throughout educational planning and reform. The full and equal engagement of women in all aspects of society is crucial to ensuring the sustainable development of Afghanistan. The report, which the United Nations has circulated only among senior Afghan officials at the Interior Ministry, found that about 90 percent of the policewomen interviewed described sexual harassment and sexual violence as a serious problem, and that about 70 percent of the policewomen said that they had personally experienced sexual harassment or sexual violence themselves, according to people who saw the report or had it described to them

Other Studies on Sexual Harassment in Afghanistan:

Another Study of Three Universities in Afghanistan[4]” jointly undertook by UNESCO and the UNDP in March 2010 in conjunction with the universities of Kabul, Herat and Balkh. It is timely affecting Afghan women today: their human capital development and their security which can ensure their living free from intimidation, fear, threats and violence in both the public and private spheres of life and pursue activities that will develop their capacity and help to lead a full and satisfying life.

The Afghan constitution, endorsement of international treaties such as CEDAW and lately the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) has put the Afghan state under firm obligation towards fulfillment of its commitment for improving women public participation. The ANDS benchmark requires 30% increase in public position in all level for women which perquisites development of new opportunities, and enabling environment where women can pursue their education and build   their careers on equal bases as that of men and even further steps as [5]affirmative action policy of the government.

Afghanistan Laws on Sexual Harassment:

Afghan civil law has not been updated or modified since the socialist period of the 1970s. As in many Muslim countries, Afghan civil law co-exists with Islamic Sharia law, as well as tribal and customary law, which are often used to resolve many conflicts in Afghan society. Understanding the proper balance between these varied bodies of law is highly complex.

Chapter two of the Constitution seeks to implement the Preamble’s declaration into practice. Article 22 holds that “the citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law.” Article 43 guarantees education to all Afghans and Article 44 imposes a positive duty on the government to “devise and implement effective programs to create and foster balanced education for women.” Article 54 recognizes the family as the “fundamental pillar of the society” and requires the government to adopt “necessary measures to attain the physical and spiritual health of the family, especially of the child and mother, upbringing of children, as well as the elimination of related traditions contrary to the principles of the sacred religion of Islam.”

To ensure that the rights provisions of the Constitution are properly implemented, Article 58 requires the state to establish and maintain the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), which is to preside over claims of human rights abuses and refer cases to the legal authorities, as it deems appropriate

 The AIHRC[6] was created pursuant to the Bonn Agreement of December 5th 2001, and it currently operates outside the formal governmental structure. The AIHRC clearly states that one of its primary goals is “to promote, ensure women’s rights and monitoring the situation of Women in Afghanistan and also make efforts to eliminate/reduce the discriminatory attitudes towards women in Afghan society.” The Commission aims to promote women’s rights through advocacy, training and education, and investigation of rights violations.

The penal Code, which is a mixture of socialist jurisprudence and ancient Islamic practice, did not contain any explicit prohibitions against rape, sexual harassment, or any other crimes against women until the enactment of the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law in August 2009. The purpose of EVAW is to end “customs, traditions and practices that cause violence against women contrary to the religion of Islam”. It strengthens many areas of women’s rights and for the first time, various forms of violence against women are criminalized, including rape. However, there remain challenges to its incorporation and many perpetrators continue to go unpunished.

Afghanistan’s recent history, continued state of political unrest, and relative isolation from central authority make it difficult to determine how, or if, codified laws are implemented in practice. There is still not a clear defined law article in Afghan Civil Code to define harassment or clarify punishment for perpetuators. However the post conflict situation in Afghanistan opens space for law reforms, which also comes as one of priority of National[7] Development Strategy (ANDS).

AFGHANISTAN’S CURRENT LEGAL POLICY FRAMEWORK:

Sexual harassment is a major problem in Afghanistan and a major obstacle on the way of women getting higher education, where women and girls have had to struggle to regain their rights after being completely shut out of education and employment during Taliban rule until their ouster in 2001. There has been significant progress in improving girls’ access to education and integrating women into the Afghan parliament and civil service but unchecked sexual harassment has been a significant obstacle to women’s employment and participation in public life. Sexual harassment within the workplace, including in government, is an especially serious problem, Human Rights Watch said. Government institutions have made almost no effort to prohibit harassment and assist victims. Only one government agency, the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, has developed anything resembling an anti-sexual harassment policy. The directorate’s “anti-harassment policy guideline” cites a commitment in the government’s 2007-2017 National Action Plan for the Women of Afghanistan to adopt and implement “a policy against sexual harassment” as the basis for the guideline.

This sets out a detailed description of harassment and measures a victim can take, including anonymously seeking the assistance of a Conflict Resolution Committee. Although, the Afghan Constitution in its preamble stresses on human rights and personal dignity of citizen (women and men), equality and For creation of a civil society free of oppression, atrocity, discrimination, and violence, based on rule of law, social justice, protection of human rights, and dignity, and ensuring fundamental rights and freedoms of the people, (constitution, 2004)

The efforts by women’s rights activists and parliamentarians to ensure the 2009 EAW law – signed as a decree by president Hamed Karzai but not yet ratified by parliament – is passed were thwarted by conservatives objecting that it was “un-Islamic”. Criticism of the law was so strong that, on 18 May 2013, the speaker stopped the parliamentary debate after 15 minutes and sent the law back to the joint commission of parliament, which prepares draft laws for further scrutiny. While the law can still be implemented, because the president has signed it, it must be passed by parliament to give it legitimacy. The EVAW Law is a step forward for addressing the issue of sexual harassment in the article 30th of the law it is clearly mentioned that under the title of Harassment/ persecution (If a person harasses/persecutes a woman, considering the circumstances he/she shall be sentenced to short term imprisonment of not less than 3 months. 2. If the crime mentioned in paragraph 1 of this Article has been committed by using authority and position, the offender considering the circumstances shall be sentenced to short term imprisonment of not less than 6 months)

According to the Human Rights Watch (New York) – Afghanistan’s new government should take urgent steps to combat sexual harassment of women in education, employment, and public life. There are no laws in Afghanistan that specifically prohibit sexual harassment or protect victims. Government institutions lack effective policies to prevent and punish sexual harassment, Human Rights Watch said.  On October 5, 2014, President Ashraf Ghani described levels of sexual harassment in schools as “shocking.” He ordered the Ministry of Education to report every incident of sexual harassment in schools to enable action against harassers, and directed relevant ministries to develop a plan to counter sexual harassment in educational institutions. The Afghan government should promptly enact a law against sexual harassment and ensure that every government institution develops and implements an anti-sexual harassment policy.” This is the responsibility of Afghan government to support this joint venture of civil society to fight against sexual harassment to pave the way for women leadership and empowerment. We since 2007 face many challenges and obstacle for the MSP due to corrupt educational system and men domination as well as systematic corruption in judiciary system of Afghanistan. Thus, so far the civil society could not work as active as it should, for law reforms and taking support of stakeholders.

METHODOLOGY

Details of Methods:

Desk Research: NEDCO conducted desk research of the laws, regulations, provisions and the pre- established reports on sexual harassment, including the methods by which they are nominated or selected. Research reports, academic journals, newspapers, and other relevant sources were consulted. A special emphasis was placed on reports related to Ministry of higher education code of conduct, the united nation sexual harassment report, ministry of women affairs and AIHRC reports. The goal was to identify opinions and concerns that have been silenced. In fact, through the literature review, NECDO research report undertook a mapping of the contributions that women have been able to make to such negotiations and the conditions under which this have occurred. Contributions will be observed through voting records, public statements, and the prevalence of gender sensitive discussions and policies.

Development of Research Framework: NECDO developed the research framework including analytical framework of analysis to lay down the theoretical foundation for the organization of findings, development of questionnaire to conduct qualitative research for the sexual harassment in higher educational institutions.

Consultations with Partners: The sampling methodology was established to ensure that research results are representative of the views of the target groups. Partners were consulted, including KNAHR, SAF, AEWC, AWPEI and (donor), and government officials for feedback.

Training for surveyors and researchers: After the approval of questionnaire of FGD and In-depth interviews had been finalized, NECDO conducted training on research methodologies for the researchers and surveyors. The goal was to ensure that the two organizations capture similar information and that all findings are relevant, congruent, and representative of the views of the population.

In-depth Interviews and Focus Groups: After the research questions and training were finalized, NECDO deployed their team of researchers to conduct five in-depth interviews and three women in the targeted universities in each province

Follow up in-depth interviews and Focus Groups: It is important to mention that given the relevance of Kabul in regards to laying down the foundations for policy amendments. The research team interviewed female and male members of parliament, local CSO and university heads or lecturers who are supportive of elimination of sexual harassment against women’s issues.

Data Analysis: Upon the conclusion of the qualitative research, NECDO processed and analyzed the data in which 5% of the data were separated and out of 1458 interviews we could extract solid information from 1385 forms. Findings was triangulated, used both primary and secondary sources – desk research – to ensure that they reflect the barriers that prevent women from becoming actively involved in the higher education and empowerment process.

Report Writing: After the data had been processed in a general database, a final research report was developed. The barriers that prevented women from becoming actively involved were discussed.

Sample or Target Population:

Initially, educational administration and government agencies were interviewed to gain insight into current and possible policies regarding sexual harassment, the reporting mechanisms and the accountability procedures. After an overall understanding within the educational institution’s context, 20 higher educational institutions were selected to get a close up on the dynamics.   A survey tool was developed in the form of a questionnaire for quantitative data gathering and a question guide was developed for qualitative information gathering through case studies. Acknowledging the silence that envelops the issue of sexual harassment and the stigma it has within the social context, the questionnaire started with observed sexual harassment in the universities. This made the respondents more comfortable to answer the second part, which focused on their own experience of sexual harassment. In this way the sensitivity of the issue was kept in mind and more accurate data was collected.

[1] Committees for discipline and regulation within University environment

[2] A video report of sexual increase by a university professor from Balkh university has been shown in Tolo TV, as eye opening of heinous act pursued at university level (Tolo TV is one of the widely viewed   private television channel, 2007)

[3] http://en.unesco.org/countries/afghanistan

[4] http://www.af.undp.org/

[5] Article Forty-Four Ch. 2, Art. 23, Constitution (2004)

[6] http://www.aihrc.org.af/media/files/VAW_Final%20Draft-20.12.pdf

[7] Five year macro-economic plan of Afghanistan for increase of growth and poverty reduction, same as PRSP else where

Please refer to the link below to read more:

Download links: 2015 NECDO Annual Report

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